“Describe Christmas in only one word.”
Why this question grabbed my attention, I am not sure. It stopped me in my aimless scrolling through my social media feed. Many people had already responded to the question giving definition to their Christmastime standard. What is it that makes that one day a merry Christmas?
Chewing on the question for several minutes, I found myself bothered with my inability to provide an answer that suited the request. What one single word adequately envelopes all that Christmas symbolizes?
It’s a challenge to describe an act of love so great, so monumental, in one single word.
Then it hit me….
The word flew into my mind out of the blue. Perhaps the only word up to the task.
It literally means “God with us.” This one word contains such history and depth, it’s difficult to provide an explanation that does justice. Found in the seventh chapter of Isaiah, the word appears as a sign of deliverance and protection for God’s people, a prophecy of God’s fulfillment of a long-awaited promise:
Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.
Emmanuel. God with us.
Christmas is about a relationship. It’s the single most significant of all relationships. It signifies the God of the Universe pursuing us by taking on the image of mankind. The form of an infant no less. God coming to earth to live the life we were supposed to live, die the death that we were supposed to die, and overcome the punishment we were supposed to bear all so He could have a relationship with you. And me. God with us.
Modern day Merry Christmas
The secret to a Merry Christmas is still found in this profound word and, yet, is so easily overlooked. I have two 2-year-olds this Christmas and I feel, more strongly than ever, the unrelenting drive of the season.
The shopping, the parties, the decorations, the wrapping and mailing of presents and Christmas cards, the concerts and programs, the family traditions, the packing, the travel, the relatives, the house guests, the food, the cooking/baking, the distribution of goodies, the clothes for the pictures… It’s more than overwhelming to keep up with the expectations of the Christmas season and so easily squeezes out time for the most important element of the season.
And if you took all this hustle bustle away, you’d find it doesn’t really mean much.
Emmanuel. God with us. This means everything.
What is the one thing that will make your Merry Christmas? Making time to spend with the God who made it so. He initiated the relationship. Make sure you take some time out this Christmas season to have one with Him.
Carve out some time away from the holiday hustle to spend time with Emmanuel. Here are some ideas to help clear your heart and make this time special:
1. Read through the Christmas story in Matthew or Luke
And I don’t mean once. Read through the story several times in each sitting. Become so familiar with the story is becomes part of who you are. During each and every repetative reading, press into its themes, details, and characters to discover more about the circumstances surrounding the Messiah’s birth. Write down things that jump out at you. Even things that don’t seem important may surprise you how they fit into the bigger picture.
2. Pull out a journal and write a letter of gratitude
Tell the Lord how much He means to you. Too often our prayer life becomes a laundry list about us, our needs, our frustrations. When was the last time you expressed gratitude for the act that brought about Christmas? There is something powerful about putting pen to paper and expressing gratitude. It’s humbling and empowering. It unlocks places inside us that we didn’t recognize before. Tell Emmanuel how grateful you are… because you can!
3. Sing a Christmas song
Music is such a big part of my Merry Christmas! I live for the few short weeks we can play Christmas music and will never tire of listening to the same sweet songs of the season over and over again! Now, I love “Here Come Santa Clause” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” as much as the next person, but that’s not the type of song I’m talking about for our purposes. Turn on one of those songs that cut through the clutter and unleash the awe and wonder of the season and sing your heart out! Here are a few suggestions if you need them:
- Emmanuel by Laura Story (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bu63pXMTSE)
- O Come O Come Emmanuel by Red Mountain Church (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0Wy2u9TENo)
- How Suddenly a Baby Cries by Keith and Kristyn Getty (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpQB1Cmuh0g)
- Advent Hymn by Christy Nockels (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNuY6I4OtoE)
God. With. Us.
I hope this helps make your Christmas a truly Merry Christmas! It’s a battle to not lose sight of the magnitude of Emmanuel but it is so worth the effort. Take heart, friends! Emmanuel so dearly longs to spend time with you too! Jesus makes every Christmas a Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to you and yours from JustOurselves.com!